ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) License (First Officer Qualifications)

The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations fully supports the Congressional mandate contained within the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111–216) that the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) License serves as the minimum standard for employment as a pilot with a FAA Part 121 or 135 air carrier.

The ATP provides the academic coursework, flight training and experience needed for the safe piloting of today’s complex, high-speed aircraft through a congested, multifaceted air traffic control network in challenging weather environments.

All mainline and regional air carriers now require the ATP for employment and to provide for the “One Level of Safety” that the traveling public deserves.

The 1,500 flight hours that the ATP requires develops a mature, experienced and professional aviator who has the foundation to exercise prudent judgment while being responsible for the safe transportation of hundreds or many times thousands of passengers during a typical flight duty period.

• Entry-level First Officers have immediate flying duties and are equitably responsible as the Captains they serve for the safe operation of the aircraft and for the passengers lives entrusted to them;

• ATP requires 500 cross-country flight hours, 400 night hours;

• ATP training and evaluation standards are tailored to commercial operations at large airports with complex arrival and departure procedures.

• Achieving the ATP requires additional requirements for validation and evaluation generating more complete pilot performance documentation.

• 1,500 hours develops better airmanship skills;

• Spatial orientation, physiological factors and situational awareness are finely honed with more flight time;

• Commercial pilot (only) licensed aviators account for 3x the accidents as ATP licensed pilots;

• 50% of US domestic flights are flown by Regional Carriers; and

• Quantity” of flight hours have a “Quality” of their own.

The previous minimum hiring requirement for U.S. commercial Part 121 and 135 operators was 250 flight hours, a commercial pilot license and an instrument rating.

The responsibility of safely transporting passengers through the congested air traffic control system in challenging atmospheric conditions should not be charged to a pilot with so little flight time and experience qualifications.

Similar to the medical profession where a doctor who is responsible for only one life at a time must first complete undergraduate study, medical school, residency and pass board certified exams, CAPA believes airline pilots should be held to the same rigorous standards contained within the ATP process before practicing their craft.

CAPA Position: CAPA fully supports the ATP as the minimum requirement for all Part 121 and 135 pilots employed by U.S. commercial air carrier operators.